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MLB Rookie Profile: Jake Junis, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Strike-throwing rookie Jake Junis reaches Kansas City.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the Kansas City Royals promoted right-handed pitcher Jake Junis to the major league roster. He pitched an inning of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays, walking two but fanning two and not giving up a run. Here’s a quick summary of what he offers.

The Royals selected Junis in the 29th round in 2011 from high school in Rock Falls, Illinois (population 9,266). His draft position was deceptive: he was rated as a fourth round talent but fell to the 29th because of a scholarship to North Carolina State. The Royals spent $675,000 to sign him.

After early struggles in ‘12 and ‘13 he improved with solid A-ball seasons in ‘14 and ‘15, then posted a 4.05 ERA in 149 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016 with a fine 143/34 K/BB. Junis ranked 13th on the Kansas City Royals Top 20 Prospects list for 2017, with the following commentary:

13) Jake Junis, RHP, Grade C+: Age 24, 29th round pick in 2011 from high school in Illinois, posted 4.05 ERA with 143/34 K/BB in 149 innings between Double-A and Triple-A; like Alec Mills he is generally in the low-90s and occasionally a touch higher; throws strikes with change-up and curveball, curve can flash plus; usually throws strikes; like Mills he could be a number four starter or a bullpen asset. ETA: 2017.

He’s made four starts this year for Triple-A Omaha, going 1-2 but with a 3.52 ERA and a sharp 27/4 K/BB in 23 innings.

Junis is 6-2, 225, born September 16th, 1992. His fastball is generally 90-94 MPH as a starter, though it might tick up a bit if he is used in the bullpen. He’ll mix in a curveball, slider, and change-up, control of all his pitches being more important to his success than pure stuff. This is a number four/five starter profile but on the right day he gives off a sleeper vibe.